The Buy Pile: The Wrath of Vader & The Queen of Toyland

Thu, September 20th, 2012 at 10:58am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted (how) into two piles -- the "buy" pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of planned purchases) and the "read" pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get his thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down, and here's some common definitions used in the column) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...

THE BUY PILE FOR SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

Fables #121
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
New readers gain next to nothing in this troubling, almost macabre issue about sacrifice and redemption. Therese and Dare are two children of Snow White and Bigby Wolf, and they come to accept their role in bringing change to a land of broken toys. This issue's a little on the dour side, it injects a dose of magic into a place which had lost all signs of it, but for long time readers there is a quiet wonder that appears as like a present, bringing part of a prophecy to light. Even as insular as this issue is, still the best monthly comic on the stands.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #5
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Whoa! The Vader you love, the Vader you show up begging for is here. The emo whining over Padme? None of that. Fretting over his lost innocence and Jedi heroism? Nuh uh. Vader's a saber swinging, strategy-using engine of destruction, whipping out his Force Powers and generally being the relentless badass that, well, fans want. Haden Blackman's script is brutal and unforgiving, the artwork from Agustin Alessio is perfect for the material and riveting to enjoy. Wonderful, wonderful work.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

That's a fantastic start.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy

If you're a fan of cheesy 80s comics like Amethyst, you'll likely not hesitate before picking up "Sword of Sorcery" #0, which recasts the original idea in slightly altered terms, making today's Amethyst a petulant teenager (as those are so popular these days) and changing the antagonist from a rakish gemstone rival to someone much closer to home. Not bad, but not enough meat on the bones of this narrative to make it satisfying.

The title character accepts who his adopted brother is in "Mighty Thor" #20, as Loki's mischief again troubles the throne of Asgardia, befuddles Surtur and pulls an end run around virtually everybody. Thor's quiet acceptance of his situation fit well, but there was a plot twist that wasn't clear enough at about the 2/3 point. Some solid ideas were presented in an issue that had merits but wasn't exactly clear.

"Extermination" #4 was best when centering on its emotional core -- a love triangle between a Superman analogue, a Batman analogue and a Catwoman analogue. The rest of the book -- despite Red Reaper's rakish charm -- meandered and lacked focus.

On the good side, "Justice League" #0 introduced a new wizard for the Shazam legacy, and he's the afro-ed Shazam from "Phantom Stranger" #0. Just saying "Afro-Shazam" is cool. Anyway, he also does a good bit of magical exposition breaking down the troubled character of post-Flashpoint Billy Batson, while making Black Adam a credible threat. On the bad side, Afro-Shazam didn't just create a champion, he handed over his powers to ... well, a jerk. That "wisdom of Solomon" might take a while to kick in, but the new much more magical Shazam (and they even fixed the problem of not being able to say his name) has some elements that are worth watching. Yes, this deserves a blog of its own. Maybe one day.

Speaking of interesting ideas, "Dead Man's Run" #3 cast Hell in some lights worth seeing, including demons with chain link wings and tailored suits, and a collection of gold that bled from the war-battered veins of angels. However, the plot lacked impetus and the tableau that was the infernal realm lacked visual grandeur and impact.

"Star Trek" #13 took a look at the plight of the red shirt, perennial punch line for Roddenberry's universe, through the eyes of a man who's been on board for the whole Abrams-era reboot. It took some unexpected turns and invested some real humanity in the sometimes disposable people who beam down with Kirk, Spock and Bones, while taking a different look at the main characters themselves.

More sugary sweet fun in "Danger Girl/G.I. Joe" #3 as the two teams join forces to try and stop Cobra from striking in three separate locations. As much fun as one of the goofier episodes of the 1980s animated series, with the cheesecake art style that "Danger Girl" fans love so, and an easy win for anybody who buys everything from either franchise. Otherwise? If you have the extra money and want something largely harmless, sure.

The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

"Avengers Academy" #37, "Battle Beasts" #3, "Ghost" #0, "Cobra" #17, "Before Watchmen: Nite Owl" #3, "Daredevil" #18, "Ghostbusters" #13, "Blue Beetle" #0, "Dark Avengers" #181, "Godzilla" #5, "DC Universe Presents" #0, "Spider-Men" #5, "Godzilla: The Half Century War" #2, "Legion of Super-Heroes" #0, "KISS" #4, "Red Hood and the Outlaws" #0, "True Blood" #5, "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #15, "Wonder Woman" #0, "Womanthology: Space" #1, "Artifacts" #21, "X-Factor" #244, "Li'l Depressed Boy" #13, "Revival" #3, "Call of Wonderland" #4.

No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...

Hey! Nothing that bad (based on what was read, spirit knows about some of the books skipped due to time).

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

No stinkers! Yay!

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A jump and nothing really stinking up the joint! It's a Kwanzaa miracle!

THE BUSINESS

Still too busy DJing the LA County Fair to even promote releasing my ebook (which happens ... oh, before the 30th). Buy Pile readers will get a special deal on that, so watch this space next week.

Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. "less than 64 pages") by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee the work will get reviewed, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially. Oh, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn't been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!

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